Rebuttal to the LA Watchdog

  – – The folks against a measure that would allow Los Angeles to explore a public bank that would cut out the Wall Street middleman are making some unfounded but nonetheless scary-sounding claims. – Jack Humphreville, a dogged local advocate and reporter who covers the DWP and city finances beat for the website CityWatch put out a brazen polemic against Charter Amendment B which contained some falsehoods and misrepresentations.  I thought I’d retort some of the worst, for the record, and to engage in this important dialogue about the […]

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The Era of Big Finance Might Be Over

– Most people still shrug when you ask them their opinion on public banking. – That used to be true about lawmakers, but recently, the concept of public ownership of a depository bank is on the lips of elected officials and policy analysts. There seems to be news about the movement for publicly-owned banks every single day. We may have arrived at the moment when city, state and national officials are ready to look at options outside the mainstream financial paradigm that serve the needs of the public directly.  It could […]

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New Minimum Wage Study Doesn’t Say What Everyone Says it Says

– Right wing economists and smug libertarians are having a fun day. – The University of Washington released a study this week supposedly showing that minimum wage increases in Seattle have resulted in a loss of wages and hours for low-skilled workers.  Their work, supported by a more comprehensive survey of wages and hours worked than has previously been available, analyzed data from companies in Seattle (with only one location within the city limits) who pay into unemployment insurance.  The study shows a decrease of hours worked (and wages paid) […]

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Putting the Arts to Work for Homeless Youth in Los Angeles

    Art is more than entertainment or decoration.   Back in March, this photo caused some tepid online outrage in Los Angeles, and spurred another (too brief) examination of the homelessness crisis in the city.   It served as a snapshot of how relatively wealthy millennials were changing some of Los Angeles’ most iconic neighborhoods and ethnic enclaves into playgrounds of twenty-something decadence, literally stepping over homeless residents to snap a selfie in front of a cheeky mural.  When I saw it, I was immediately upset by not only how indifferent […]

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In the Future You Will

I know they’re AT&T ads, but I remember watching these and being so excited for the future. Yesterday, I actually looked up how much a virtual reality headset costs. My car drives on half electricity generated when I brake. These videos make me flush with gratitude for how tech has changed our world. But I also see that really nothing big has changed. The advances demonstrated in this video are largely conveniences meant to help people consume more quickly and work during their vacations, and making face to face communications obsolete through video screens. Almost everyone in these videos is alone. The in-person interactions are incidental. (The exception is the athlete receiving medical care, which stands out as a humane and very necessary deployment of tech. Sagefully, the patient’s health is of utmost importance to a major American corporate entity – his NFL team – making his recovery not a self evident matter of good fortune for a person and his family, but because he gets back on the field, the season is saved, blah blah blah.) Commerce will self-innovate, businesses will always look for ways to improve themselves to out compete the next business or address new needs and pain points for consumers. But tech and money can’t solve problems that exist between people. They can only make the conversations more predictable and less frequent, less intimate, they insulate the richest people from the poorest people, and provide a dim […]

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Why I Left My Bank

#remember X 2 #nov5 #BankTransferDay #treason #plot #aintnoreasonwhy #neverforget #BankTransferDay is Upon Us It probably wouldn’t surprise you if I told you I was participating in Bank Transfer Day, the Occupy-inspired day of protest where people are encouraged to move their deposits into credit unions and out of the major banks.  You might be surprised when I tell you it was primarily a personal budget decision between my partner and I, and not one made from idealism or outrage.  I even did it early, to avoid any trouble with my […]

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#OWS: Bank of America is At It Again

News broke today that the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation had a little disagreement about a transfer of assets between subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation (BAC) which owns both Merrill Lynch and Bank of America (BofA, the retail bank you’re more familiar with.)  It seems that BAC is moving something on the order of $75 trillion dollars of derivatives risk from Merrill Lynch, which is not insured by American taxpayers, to Bank of America, which is.  This means that just as European banks are about to crumble in on themselves in an epic default, BAC has pushed their substantial share of the risk of those defaults from their shareholders to the FDIC, effectively putting taxpayers on the hook. Here is another great piece on the transfer from former regulator William K. Black. They did this without a peep from the Federal Reserve.  Through the FDIC, you and I now bear the risk of the screwed up European banking system without ever engaging in these risky and fraudulent debt obligations to begin with.  They ate the meal, now we clean the $75 trillion dishes. This is why people do not, and probably should not, trust the financial sector and its narrow interests. People now associate ‘Wall Street’ with a threat to regular people with regular jobs and regular investments. The financial sector is the largest contributor to federal elections, including President Obama.  Mitt Romney is one and is surrounded by them.  And […]

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#OWS: The Morning After

You know the argument about a rising tide, and how it lifts all boats?  This has always seemed a dubious metaphor to me because of all the assumptions it must make in order to apply, and all of the obvious features of the ‘tide’ that it conveniently leaves out of the idiom. Join me while I break it down. (much more below the fold)

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